2:05pm

Thu December 23, 2010
The Two-Way

Nixon-Era Probe Of Dan Schorr Uncovered A Great Reporter, FBI Files Show

In August 1971 the Nixon White House asked the FBI to do a background check on Daniel Schorr -- who at that time was on the administration's infamous "enemies list" because he was a hard-working, deep-digging, exposer of corruption and wrongdoing with CBS News.

Files just posted at FBI.gov now reveal that the "dirt" the FBI dug up on Dan proved that he was ... a hard-working, deep-digging, exposer of corruption and wrongdoing with CBS News.

Also: that everyone he had worked with described him as loyal, honest and worthy of consideration for a government job. (The ruse created by the White House when it asked the FBI to do the investigation was that Dan was being considered for a position in the government.)

Oh, and Dan could also be, according to another legendary newsman, Howard K. Smith, "abrasive and insulting." But those are necessary traits, Smith added, if you're going to be "an outstanding news correspondent."

All in all, there's lots of fascinating reading and many accolades in the documents about Dan, who before his death in July at the age of 93 had spent the last 25 years of his career with NPR.

Richard Salant, president of CBS' news division, assures agents that Dan is "conscientious, tireless and effective, with a high standard of personal conduct and ethics."

Fred Friendly, another CBS News legend, "described [Dan] as a person of exemplary character, of great integrity who leads an almost perfect life."

Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover concludes in one memo that the bureau's work "was entirely favorable concerning [Dan]."

And such memos, detailing the back-and-forth between the FBI and the White House, spell out how the administration began with the ruse about wanting to give Dan a job and then just days later asked that the investigation be shut down as word got around about it -- and as the results basically showed that Dan was a good reporter doing his job.

Memos in later months show how the FBI and White House tried to spin the story to The Washington Post.

We haven't had time to read every page yet. If you see other interesting things, spotlight them in the comments thread. NPR's Sonari Glinton is due to have more about the files on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.